Cystitis 101: What is it, what causes it and how to get the eff rid of it

'Cos it's the ACTUAL WORST

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If you've ever been #blessed by the joys of cystitis, you'll know that it's a life ruiner. IT RUINS PEOPLES' LIVES. The constant feeling of desperately needing to pee is enough to turn you into a crazy person, and the pain that often comes along with it can leave your vagina crying itself to sleep.

So if you don't fancy experiencing the magic for yourself, or if you wanna make sure you're never faced with it again then get clued up on everything there is to know about cystitis, how to avoid it and how to make it go the eff away with our handy guide right here. Yay.

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So what is it?

In fancy science terms, cystitis is super common a bacterial infection that causes your bladder to become inflamed, and it happens when bacteria gets into your bladder through your urethra (the bit of your vagina that you pee from).

Unforch for us girls, it's most common in women. Around half of women will get cystitis - or another type of urinary tract infection - at some point in their lives, although men and children can get it too. Cystitis is less common in men as they have longer urethras, so bacteria has further to travel before it reaches the bladder. Basically, it sucks. Big time.

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How does it feel when you've got it?

The first and most signature sign of cystitis you'll probably notice initially is pain when you're peeing, and the CONSTANT feeling that you're absolutely desperate for a wee. While that's rubbish enough in itself, the endless, stinging dashes to the toilet will also only result in teeny tiny amounts of wee actually materialising.

Cystitis pain can vary from being quite mild and just uncomfortable, to being so bad that it's completely debilitating, leaving you feeling frustrated, in pain and desperate (lol) to find an immediate solution.

Anything else to look out for?

You might also notice that your pee is cloudy, dark or particularly strong smelling, and there may also be traces of blood r no urine. Other symptoms include stomach pain and lower back, as well as generally feeling exhausted and all kinds of crappy.

These symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than cystitis. If your symptoms don't get better after a few days, or you have blood in your urine, contact your GP. They'll rule out any other conditions that could be causing your symptoms or treat you if you do have cystitis.

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What could have caused it?

Loads of easily done things can be the cause of cystitis. Having sex, poor hygiene (for example, if you haven't washed for the duration of a festival), using a contraceptive diaphragm and pregnancy can all be triggers, but there are also more serious causes like diabetes, kidney/bladder stones, an enlarged prostate and abnormalities of the urinary tract could all be behind it too. So if you keep being blessed with bouts of cystitis, it's worth chatting to your GP to double check what's going on.

It's absolutely, 100% NOT a sexually transmitted infection, just FYI, so don't be embarrassed about it.

What should you do about it?

To be honest, there's no magical instant solution. Most of the time, cystitis usually clears up on its own within a few days so you won't usually need any treatment.

However, if your symptoms get worse or don't get better within a couple of days, you should get it checked out by your doctor. Usually with a urine test (weeing on a stick yaaay), they'll be able to rule out any other conditions that could be causing your symptoms, or offer you antibiotics to clear it right up.

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How do I make it go the eff away?

Cystitis usually clears up by itself without any proper medical treatment, but there are a few things you can do to make it slightly more bearable.

  • Take the usual painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen which will help ease the painful side of things a li'l bit.
  • Up your water intake MAJORLY. Drink as much as you can to help flush out the infection.
  • Put a warm hot water bottle on your lower back to help soothe any discomfort.
  • Try to rest as much as possible. It can be totally exhausting on your body, so the more sleep you get, the quicker you'll be able to get rid of it.
  • Try drinking cranberry juice, 'cos it can restore your the natural chemical balance of your wee.
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How do I make sure it doesn't come back?

Once you've got rid of cystitis, it will feel like your vagina has been blessed by a thousand angels and you'll never want to have a wee ever again, so here's a few golden rules to follow to make sure that you don't get it again any time soon.

  • STOP holding in your pee. Not draining properly allows bacteria to build up, and that leads to infection, so the longer you've got it sitting inside you then the more likely it is to turn nayyysty.
  • Ease back on alcohol. Drinking it dehydrates you pretty badly, making your urine more concentrated, which can cause cystitis. If your urine is darker than a pale yellow, drink loads of water.
  • Make sure you always go for a wee after sex. Emptying your bladder washes out any bacteria 'massaged' into your urethra during intercourse, and particularly errr.. vigorous sex can also bruise your bladder and lead to cystitis too. Take it easy.
  • Skinny jeans don't help. They can rub the entrance to the urethra and make it sting, so opt for something looser if you're worried.
  • Are you drinking loads of fruit juice? Too much orange juice or anything else citrusy will up the acidity of your pee and cause irritation.
  • Wear undies that are made of natural materials, such as cotton or linen. Oh, and ditch the thongs.
  • After you go to the toilet, wipe from front to back, and make sure you're cleaning yourself properly.
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